Lightning Survivor Says He's Lucky - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Weather Safety

Lightning Survivor Says He's Lucky

(Harrison County) -- "Yeah, I'm a little shaky and got a severe headache but other than that, bummed out knee but other than that I'm in pretty good shape."

That's what Bruce Hawkins told friends who called throughout the day making sure he was okay after being struck by lightning. Hawkins says sometime around 6 p.m. Thursday, he came inside from the rain, and in wet clothes with his knee touching the stove, began cooking supper.

"When it hit, it blew me over to the counter and I hit the counter and then I just hit the floor. I was all right then. I just laid there for a few minutes and I was all right."

Hawkins walked to his bedroom feeling a little shaky and weak, but a few minutes later he says he went back to the kitchen to eat.

"And then I walked into the living room here and told my mother I said I just can't breathe and that's the last thing I remember for awhile."

Hawkins passed out and quit breathing. His mother called 911, and his sister gave him mouth to mouth until help arrived. Hawkins spent about three hours at the hospital being treated for burns.

"I was lucky, very fortunate that I had somebody here. If I hadn't had somebody here and 911 to tell them what to do, I would have died."

Emergency Medical Technician Mike Sturgill says Hawkins was lucky, and it probably doesn't matter that Hawkins' clothes were wet since he was inside when the lightning struck.

"If he'd been outside and the electricity had traveled across the surface of the ground instead of through the stove, it might have made a significant difference, but I would guess in his specific case it probably didn't make any major difference," Sturgill said.

There are 3,600 lightning strikes each year in this country. About 100 of them are fatal. The state health department says lightning strikes aren't common in our state. Statistics show that from 1989 to 1999, lightning killed 17 people.

Sturgill says just using a little common sense and seeking shelter from a storm can keep you safe from lightning.

By the way, when Hawkins was serving in Vietnam while in the Navy, his nickname was, ironically, Lightning.

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